What Gamers Expect Of Game-Based Learning
You may have already seen the statistics both here at eLearning Industry and across the web, but what we hear a lot these days is that the number of people who play video games as a hobby is on the rise.
As a matter of fact, the Entertainment Software Associate (ESA) reported that in April 2015 approximately 155 million people play video games in the United States alone, and that the average age of a person that plays video games is now 35*. Video games do appeal to both the young and old and can provide a source of inspiration and imagination.
The education sector has had a fascination with the mechanics of gaming and its relationship to learning and teaching for some time. Every educator will utilize some form of game-based learning in the classroom at some point, for example merit systems, quizzes, and class leader boards.
However, there are now some who take game-based learning much further by including mainstream video games within their curriculum, such as Minecraft and Kerbal Space Program. These video games can be used to teach a variety of topics that instantly appeal to an audience that love and connect with video games as a past time.
Evaluating this approach as a form of multimedia enhanced learning puts great demand on the quality of other online experiences being delivered by eLearning developers.
Video games have developed rapidly in a short period of time to include rich, vibrant graphics, immersive action, and compelling storytelling. The eLearning industry must continue to evolve in order to approach learning not just as a linear slide-based, tick box exercise, but rather as something that captivates an audience with interaction and storytelling if it is to provide a lasting and memorable experience.
Here are some of the traits that gamers expect from eLearning, or else some of the expectations to be mindful of when approaching eLearning as a game based learning activity:
- Instant feedback to actions.
Games require split second reasoning and decision making which tests the player. Most actions translate to reactions. eLearning should do a good job of turning learner reactions and responses into feedback to complete the learning experience.
- A journey that feels personal.
With mainstream video games that offer choice, everyone plays the same game but many will choose a unique path that feels right for them. Some players who are experts in a certain genre may set a higher difficulty rating right from the start in order to challenge themselves because they feel they can achieve that benchmark. eLearning needs to provide pathways that a learner can follow that feels personal, speaks at their level, and encourages them to progress and better themselves towards the end result – completion.
- Digital storytelling (a learning pathway with a purpose).
Digital storytelling is a growing style in learning, and you can read many more articles on the subject on this website. Digital storytelling works well in video games, as a player will often feel affinity with a characters plight or story. They may feel compelled to complete a task or challenge to feel like justice has been done, or to reach a resolution. This is a powerful medium to employ in learning too, as a learner will want to challenge themselves if they understand the purpose and overall end reason for doing so.
- The ability to lose (and be given the chance to improve).
You see the term “Game Over” used so much in gaming, but rarely when those words are displayed is the game truly over. Most players will feel motivation to start again to better themselves and improve their performance. A popular saying in education is that a learner should be allowed to make mistakes in order to learn from them, so too should this be adapted into eLearning. A bad result in a quiz shouldn’t result in reaching the final screen/slide without consequence. Instead you should build in scenarios where the learner needs to improve, and show them why this is important - motivating them to revisit their understanding and not simply give up and hurry to the end.
To see some real world examples of modern game-based learning produced for vocational training organizations, visit my website at CH Digital Solutions.